Friday, 22 July 2016

Odd Oracles

I'm working on two issues of A Random Encounter at the moment, and turning some ideas over in my head. I was transcribing my interview with Patrick Stuart for Issue 4, and we talked a bit about blogging and why he started, and it got me thinking about when I started blogging about games. This blog started on 21st March 2012, but on the same day I posted something on a Tumblr that I used to use, about the very first game that I GMed: In A Wicked Age.

I like In A Wicked Age: the Oracles that produce the inspiration and elements work really well, they produce a rich fantasy world at the table with no prep, and I think that playing it a few times gets you in the flow with the dice mechanics. There's a bit of AP in the post, and I was playing with Patrick and David, so it was a good game. There were also a couple of musings about the Oracle idea itself:
[Patrick] mentioned that there were “Oracle hacks” of the game, and I can understand why this would be quite cool to do. Because the set-up is so fast, straightforward and fun, it’s quite a freeing game to play. ... In my head I’m already imagining urban fantasy possibilities, superhero settings and even - dare I say it - zombie game settings…

We hacked together an Oracle or two and played some Tales From Zero Point, which was an element of a bigger space setting that we created collaboratively. I loved that the Oracle could produce a great game with no preparation. We could turn up and really tune in to make a creative story; and at the same time, I still felt that it was a bit clunky with the mechanics, and as someone running the game I wanted something to help support making NPCs and places - even just little possible story threads for the players to explore (I'm not a railroad fan).

For a little while now I've been turning over mashing an Oracle-setting-generator-thing with the Into The Odd resolution mechanics: a strip-downed game that could get people up and running quickly with no prep. Draw some cards to get character and setting inspiration from an Oracle, and while PCs roll dice to flesh out their characters, the GM can roll some dice or draw cards to flesh out the setting in an organic way. I think it's possible to do this in a reasonably small game, that provides a lot of prompts and support for the GM and the players to come up with the backdrop for a great one-shot every time they play, or which could organically create a sandbox-y story - each session being either an "episode" or just the next steps.

And now that this idea is back in my head again... I guess I have one more thing to add to the to do list... :)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

An Odd Idea: Mechsuit O.D.D.

On top of working on A Random Encounter I have an on-again/off-again relationship with a hack of Into The Odd set in a semi-hard sci-fi setting at the edge of the solar system. Into The Oort, if it ever gets finished, will have spaceships, zero-gravity derring-do, exploration of ancient human megastructures and centaurs. (really)

Despite having only so many hours in the day and enough creative pursuits already, my brain keeps saying, "Nathan! Hey Nathan, think about this..." I blame Chris McDowall: he wrote a game with a very easily hacked set of mechanics. This post is the latest "odd idea" that I've had... It has some blanks and some spaces which are currently boxed out with [] square brackets because I haven't got that far yet. But I think I will, sooner or later...

Mech suit by flyingdebris

Monday, 11 July 2016

In The Works

The last few months have been difficult. A couple of busy periods with the day job, plus family medical drama put RPG and zine stuff on the back burner. Even writing this post was delayed. I sat down to do this last night, and then my daughter, who had been a little out of sorts all day threw up. I spent most of last night asleep on her bedroom floor, and most of today wandering around in a semi-zombie state.

Difficult is relative, in reality, I'm a very fortunate guy. Among many things I've been using to buoy myself up recently has been Neil Gaiman's instruction to "make good art" - come what may, just get on with it. Listening to a couple of guests on the Tim Ferriss Show podcast has helped too, particularly Seth Godin and Kevin Kelly. Onwards and upwards, and all that.

In the next few months then, here's what you can expect from me (with some indication as to where they are in terms of completion):
  • A Random Encounter Issue 3 - Vandel J. Arden
    • Main interview done, transcribed and first editing pass done. Follow-up questions thought through and sent out. Cover commissioned. Print bonus in the works. Interior art in the works. ETA: end-July/start-of-August.
  • A Random Encounter Issue 4 - Patrick Stuart
    • Main interview done, will start transcription this week. A couple of follow-up questions identified. Cover commissioned, along with interior art. Print bonus is a mystery at the moment but a couple of ideas are tickling my brain. ETA: end-August/start-of-September.
  • Fort [working title]
    • It's coming up on the one year anniversary of Oddpool, and I had a couple of pages of follow-up ideas for the areas around that haunted and cursed place. Fort will be a Pocketmod-sized supplement about the area to the west of the river, a hold-out of civilisation and a strange place. People who think they're normal, living between a dead city and miles of marshland, but who are a bit... odd. (may or may not be inspired by the geography and locales of my hometown and surroundings) ETA: September/October.
My home office is starting to look like a small self-publishing outfit - which, I guess is kind of what it's becoming. As well as two issues of A Random Encounter, a re-print of Oddpool and two more issues of the zine on the way soon, I have the print runs of two other things that I've done in the last few months. These are for my dayjob, but couldn't have happened without my experiences of self-publishing RPG things.
As Issue 3 moves closer to completion I'll be announcing subscriptions - which will work out at the same cost as individual issues, but I'll throw in pdf copies as well for instant gratification - I have candidates for Issues 5 and 6 who have been tapped and given positive responses. So subscriptions to begin with will be for up to the end of this year/Issue 6. I have a big list of names for 2017, but if people are happy to support subscriptions I want to make sure I can deliver the goods.

I'll be posting RPG ideas more in the coming days as my brain needs space to vent while I get on with transcribing audio, editing three podcasts for my day job and working on admin and emails. I need to find creative outlets! I think I'll be offering a game or two for AntiGenCon this year, so just working through some ideas for that too... Currently a game of Maze Rats is winning out, but I might also run Escape The Undermaze too.

Want to know more about anything here? Comment below or email me! Thanks for reading, N.